Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Well, that didn’t take long. I’ve always said “If you expect the worst from people, you won’t be disappointed”. I got my first “charity” email soliciting “donations” for the victims of Katrina. This came while I listened to news reports of looting throughout the flooded areas.

There are a lot of very very shitty people out there. I sure hope the good ones can help everyone who was hurt by the hurricane, the aftermath, or the parasites that came swooping behind them.

Maybe one of the multi-billion dollar poker sites out there will get a clue and hold a charity poker tournament with the bulk of the entry fees going to the Red Cross or some other legitimate charity in the Gulf region. There’s so much money out there in the online poker world, and so little philanthropy from these entrepreneurs, it would be a breath of fresh air to see one step up here.

Would it smack of opportunistic publicity mongering? Yes, but even opportunistic publicity mongerers can do good things.

This is a post I wrote on Monday and held back until today ---

Every year, just before Labor Day, is the mad flurry known around the Commish household as “Football Draft Week”. I typically have between three and six Fantasy Football League drafts (running many of the leagues, hence the “Commish” part of my name), temporarily tying up the home computer and around $300-400 in family funds. This year, I’ve set up a wireless network and scaled back my FFL exploits to a select few leagues, reducing my computer hogging to nil, and my financial commitment to $200 or so.

The first $100 draft of the year was Saturday night. I joined this league courtesy of Donkeypuncher, and won it a couple of years ago, buying myself considerable wifey-equity by using the cash winnings to buy a new reclining sofa for the family. Since then, each time I cordon off my desk and announce “Don’t bother me for a couple of hours, I have a draft”, my wife will ask “Is this the league with Jeff?”. She apparently has made the connection between these brief isolations and new furniture, so I get my peace and quiet.

However, last Saturday was a different matter. A good buddy invited my whole brood over for dinner and a gabfest and given that he was Best Man at my wedding, and one of the other groomsmen was attending, I felt a small sense of peer pressure to attend, despite the impending draft. I told him of my prior commitment and he had his high-speed network connection loaded up and ready when we got there. He and I had been in a different league that started in 1984, so he knew the drill. As a side note, I found one of my draft sheets from 1985 and the first three draft picks were Dan Marino, Marcus Allen, and Herschel Walker… ah, memories.

Anyway, the draft order had been announced the week before and I was pretty satisfied with the #3 pick knowing that I would get either Manning or Shaun Alexander. I’m not especially sold on Priest playing all 16 games, so I took Alexander when Manning went second. Another side note: just to show you what kind of guys are in this league, team #2 is named “Tossin’ Salad”. If you don’t know, google it. Preferably when you’re not at work.

Most of the drafters are reasonably sharp (especially for $100/pop), so there were no huge surprises for the first two rounds. I had Julius Jones primed for my second pick when he went right before me (I frickin’ hate that), leaving me with problem child TO for my second pick. Point of strategy in Yahoo leagues, you are required to play THREE receivers each week, meaning you need at least four serviceable receivers to rotate during bye weeks, bad matchups, and injuries. Since many FFL players started on ESPN or Sportsline, they’re used to the two WR requirement, and therefore under-draft at the position. When my second pick came up, I had to choose between a top-three receiver and a second-tier running back (Portis, KJones, SJackson) and I rolled the dice hoping one of those three would be there when my turn came back around. Of course, they weren’t.

Here’s where we have a problem. One, I don’t have a decent #2 RB yet. Two, the wives all conspired to order Chinese food, which they insisted the men all pick up while they happily munch on Brie and let my $100 go pissing away. So I’m stalled and complained while my choices for second RB and Marvin Harrison are drafted, leaving me at a major strategic crossroads. Should I draft a mediocre RB or go with a solid tier two receiver? Should I feign injury so I don’t have to leave the computer? Should I leave the drafting to some Yahoo? In order, I drafted Holt (over Chad Johnson), I went to the Chinese restaurant and risked my entire draft, and I left my 12-year old son in charge of drafting the next few rounds.

So, as I was running out the door, I told Trevor to pick the best RB on my draft board with the next pick, and then a QB. Most of the teams had already locked in two RBs, so I thought I’d get Deshaun Foster or Fred Taylor, both with good “upside”. Trevor, bless his heart, took Chris Brown, who had looked good against the abysmal 49er defense the night before. I guess he was paying attention. But at the wrong time. He followed this pick with Tom Brady, no argument here. In the sixth, he snagged Jerry Porter, an inspired selection as it completed my WR gamebreaker triumvirate.

Now, around here he started getting a little frantic since he was recognizing fewer and fewer names. He decided to go with a backup QB about three rounds too early and tagged Drew Brees, but apparently the stress was getting to him. He called my buddy’s cell phone with a shaky voice saying “Why are you making me do this?” I had him recap the selections and told him to take the top TE next, who turned out to be Alge Crumpler. Had he called me a round earlier, I would’ve taken Todd Heap over Brees. We’ll see how that turns out.

Around then, we’re pulling into the driveway with the food, so I jump out of the car and run in. My wife is yelling at me because Trevor was pacing and pulling his hair and practically crying the whole time. Why? Because I told him that it was a $100 buy-in. Oh well. I hug the boy and tell him he did well (whaddya want me to do, chew him out?). But now I’m desperate for RB help, so I end up drafting Pittsburgh’s two crippled RBs (hey, one of them has to play soon) over the next three rounds sandwiched around a Houshlaskjdajdahzadeh. Well, at least I have four receivers, any three of which can go for 100 yds and a TD every single week. I just have to pick the right ones. I have decent quarterbacking. I have a blue-chipper, a soon-to-be backup, and two gimps at RB. It’s likely that a team with bad receivers (there are a few) might come calling with RBs after they notice that they’re supposed to choose THREE each week. At least, I hope so. Or it’s gonna be a long long year.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Time for the AFC Preview, which you’ve doubtlessly been hankerin’ for…

Here’s a shock. I don’t have New England winning it again. This will finally be Peyton’s year. With a reasonably healthy Edge and an only moderately porous defense, Indy will carry the AFC banner into XL.

AFC East – New England will win this division though, with the Jets again fighting for the Wild Card. The Jets might even press the Pats for the crown. I’ve seen some publications touting Buffalo as a surprise sleeper, “sleeper” being the operative term here. I see Buffalo at 6-7 wins while JP learns the job. Miami… well, they’ll be lucky to win 6, probably more likely to get 3-4.

AFC Central – Oddly enough, this division will be one of the most competitive. You have two teams with outstanding defenses (Baltimore/Pittsburgh) and one team with a potentially explosive offense (Cincy)… and the Cleveland Browns. Here’s the easy pick, Cleveland will come in last. Three young QBs will determine the division crown, with Cincy clearly having the edge in skill players and QB trend. OK, I’ve talked myself into it, Cincy will win the division, then Bill Cowher’s Jaw, then Ray Lewis’ posse.

AFC South – Indy wins. Jacksonville second. After that, no one really cares except for David Carr’s chiropractor and Steve McNair’s orthopedic surgeon.

AFC West – Four way tie! Or not. San Diego was a fluke last year, they’ll come back to 8-9 wins. Kansas City’s wins will be ½ of Priest Holmes’ touchdown total. Oakland will have one win for every 300 yds from Randy Moss and Lamont Jordan. If the two combine for 3000 yards, the Raiders will win 10. In the more likely event they combine for 2400, the Raiders will win 8. Jake Plummer will see to it that the Broncos go 8-8. In this group, that might be good enough, though I see a healthy KC winning enough to come out on top. Unless Kerry Collins throws less than 16 interceptions. Or Drew Brees repeats last year’s performance. Or Jake Plummer grows some pocket discipline.

The AFC road to the Super Bowl is paved with AstroTurf and no team is better on that crap than the Colts. Division champs will be New England (may have more trouble than you think), Cincy (!), Indy (slam dunk), and uh… uh… I’ll get back to you on that. Wild Cards will be the J-E-T-S jets jets jets and probably Pittsburgh if Big Ben proves to be more like Marino/Montana and less like Joe Gilliam/Mike Kruzcek. But nobody will stop Peyton this year.

Super Bowl XL prediction: Indianapolis over Philly 27-17. Super Bowl MVP Edge. So let it be written.... so let it be done.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Ahhh, it’s that time of year again. My first (cash) FFL draft of the year is tonight. So far, I’m signed up for four cash leagues (three at $20-25 pp, one at $100, not counting one confidence pts league for another C-note). Since one of the leagues is a blogger/reader league, I won’t post my drafting strategy yet (I know many of you print up my draft-day hints as a cheat sheet, much like you print Mel Kiper’s college draft stuff).

But I can regale all five of my regular readers with my fearless NFL preview:

NFC East – Ummm, Philly again, with the rest of the division 5-11 or 6-10. The Cowboys have an outside chance of making .500, but the Giants and Skins are well on their way to suckitude. Philly will have the division clinched by Halloween, with or without TO.

NFC Norris – Everyone seems to like Minnesota this year. Me, I like Detroit to get to ten wins and take the division. Two big reasons: 1. Everyone seems to like Minnesota, and 2. Tice is a tool. Minnesota has enough talent to make the wildcard though, regardless of who is coaching. Green Bay is poised for a tidy little 7-9 season, with the Bears struggling for four wins.

NFC South – An amazing division. Most casual fans don’t even know there IS an NFC South, and they’ve been in the Super Bowl two of the last three times. Carolina will win, simply by being the most solid team here. Atlanta will again be in the wildcard hunt, entirely dependent on Vick’s health for their chances. If X = number of games started and finished by Michael Vick, Atlanta’s wins will be (X/2) + 1. So assuming sixteen starts, they’ll win nine games; twelve starts, seven games. New Orleans (are they still in the league?) and Tampa Bay will both hover around 6-7 wins.

NFC Worst – Why does everyone suddenly like the Cards? Isn’t this the team that single-handedly helped the Niners avoid the fate of the Yuckaneers? Take my word for it, the Lambs will win this division with the Seadogs scuffling at .500. The Cards and Niners will combine for ten wins tops (might be 8-2 or 5-5, but ten will be the number).

The playoff road heads through Philly this year. IF TO is playing for Philly come playoff time, they win the NFC easily. The only team that can beat TO-less Philly in Philly is… Carolina. Solid ground attack, good defense, adequate passing. The question is when those two teams meet will determine the NFC representative, since Detroit, Minnesota, and St Louis can beat Carolina in Carolina in the projected conference championship game.

So, put simply, if TO is still in Philly green for the entire playoffs, Philly goes to XL.

But he's still an ass.

Friday, August 19, 2005

It’s Friday and around here, that can only mean one thing…

Another unproductive day.


Empire Poker is offering a 100% bonus for 10x raked hands. I haven’t checked out all of the fine print on this one, but a few hours of $.5/1 O8 might justify the investment. 10x is a little severe though, and I need to see if partial payouts are possible.

Anyway, more WSOP replays last night, as well as another season of Celebrity Shithead Poker Suckout. OK, here’s a quiz for you guys. Which is the stupider move?

1. Folding pocket TT with a board of AJTx
2. Folding pocket TT with a board of 4445
3. Folding 65s with a board of A743 with 74 being your suit

The top two were in the WSOP, the third was by Charla from the Amazing Race. Phil commented, “I don’t think she knew she had the nuts.” No shit, Phil. Parenthetically, Charla is probably the cutest dwarf I’ve ever seen. I’m still puzzling over whether that makes me a sicko or not… But I’d do her, sober even.

Johnny Fairplay (I think he actually changed his name legally) proved himself to be a complete and utter asshole, as well as an incompetent poker player. One pay-per-view or Celebrity Boxing match that’s dying to be made would be Johnny Fairplay against Puck. Odds are that Puck would kill him, but the real winners would be the rest of the freakin’ world. Put it this way, even Foley was appalled. Celebrity poker has definitely jumped the shark… It remains to be seen whether this is a harbinger for real poker on TV.

Is it just me, or does the poor lighting and film quality of the WSOP satellites make it harder to watch? I thought ESPN was supposed to have better production values. It looks like it’s done on Super8 and transferred to Beta before the telecast. And we need to really petition ESPN to get rid of Chad. Clearly, he has NFI what he’s talking about, and the poker phenomenon has led to a more savvy audience, meaning that the average viewer has probably played more (and better) poker than the “expert commentator”. Chad offers NO insight, NO credibility, and NO humor. Let’s see him in a Celebrity Boxing match with Phil Hellmuth (undercard would be Annie Duke vs. Daniel Negreanu).

There’s still time to remove him from the WSOP main event broadcasts. Surely they can buy off some poker expert (like Pauly) to do voice-over work three months after the fact.

“Ooooh, Chan has position here and should raise.”
“Umm, Pauly, he has 72 offsuit. Isn’t that the worst possible starting hand?”
“Raising with the Hammer is positive EV here, Lon. The implied karma is greater than the folding equity. I was explaining that to a crack whore at the Redneck Riviera while I was laundering my only pair of underpants.”

Seriously, who would increase WSOP viewership more… Norman Chad or Pauly? The answer is clear.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Friday Potpourri –

- Regarding the ACH/BG babe debate… and one man’s thoughts. Remember, I talked about several of these back in October.

Fifties – Marilyn Monroe – Sheesh, no mention at all of the defining babe of the 50’s?
Sixties – Barbara Eden – Give her that costume and have her call me “Master” and I can think of a few dozen commands I’d give her.
Seventies – Cheryl Ladd – I’m noticing a trend of blondes here…
Eighties – Phoebe Cates – Gotta side with BG here. That red bikini should be in the Babe Hall of Fame. As should those breasts.
Nineties – Heather Locklear – C’mon guys. Don’t tell me you watched Melrose Place to see Andrew Shue…
Oughts – Jessica Alba – Here I join with ACH and Donkeypuncher worshipping at the Temple of the Dark Angel.

- Message to all of Philly regarding T.O. – I. Told. You. So.

- Almost time for my annual football preview posts. Preview of my Super Bowl prediction: The 49ers won’t be there.

- If the A’s win the West, expect the final play from yesterday’s game to be a prominent part of the highlight DVD. And keep Frankie Rodriguez from seeing any stories about Donnie Moore.

- Can we say last week was a bad week for the media? Kenny Rogers getting his suspension hacked down by an inebriated arbiter and KNBR (the local sports talk radio station) getting three people whacked because Felipe Alou blows a gasket over a MINOR incident.

- Props to the kid in Yankee Stadium for standing up for his right to be a complete asshat. Diving into a net takes daring, guts, and a .20 blood alcohol level.

- Note to Mike Cameron and Carlos Beltran. “I got it” is one of the first things I teach my outfielders.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Interesting crossroads right now. Active poker accounts are $0 right now. I’ve been steadily pulling funds when I get above a threshold, typically $100/site, leaving a small chunk to play SnG’s. Four straight bubbles in Party SnG’s have left me fund-less there for the first time in… well, a long time. Pacific, PokerStars, Empire, UB, FullTilt, all have been cashed (or busted) down to $0 .

Also, I’ve been just as diligent about cashing out of Neteller, leaving me with a pittance ($170+ at last count) sitting there for whoring purposes. Now, should I re-enter whichever site offers the best bang for my virtual buck with this admittedly small bankroll, or should I fully cash out, and leave the online poker world to the many more serious players?

Granted, this decision is not earth-shaking, one way or the other. And the amount is equally uninspiring to the sites (in other words, I don’t think Party is exactly desperate for their $170 back). The last $20 from Party’s Bonus-just-for-breathing bloomed into $250+ which was withdrawn to help fund the family fishing vacation in Canada, so in a sense, it’s house money. I ain’t gonna buy a new swimming pool or deck with $170, nor will any car dealership take $170 for a new Lexus, so I’m leaning towards re-depositing the money.

-Side note-what ever happened to those days of 50% boni?-

But where? Party’s 20% re-deposit bonus is useless to me since I don’t play that many raked hands. Most sites only offer NEW deposit boni, so I’ll either have to, um, create an alias at a current site or pick some new site. I think Noble and Absolute are the two biggest sites that I’ve never joined, so their boni would have to be considered. Ideally, I would want a bonus that gives PLAYABLE money rather than a raked requirement. Either that or a bonus that counts SnGs against any rake requirement. Any ideas or comments would be appreciated here. If someone needs a referral bonus, let me know, or if someone wants to “invite” me to try some new site, I will make sure I join using their bonus code, assuming their bonus is achievable.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Steve Young is going into the Hall of Fame. And rightfully so. Many of the so-called 49er faithful hated Young when he arrived, feeling that he was an upstart, intent on usurping the throne of King Joe. Well, as it turned out, he was. I’m just amazed that so many people were shortsighted enough to dislike him for that attitude. Hey, unless you’re here for the first time, you know that I’m a Joe Montana worshipper. Hell, my son’s middle name is Joseph. I will be forever frustrated that my son was born on June 12th and not June 11th (Joe’s birthday).

But I never resented Steve Young. I understood his drive to be the Man, his compulsion to show everyone how good he was, his frustration at being stuck behind the greatest quarterback in history. Geez, don’t you WANT that type of competitive fire in your backup quarterback? After all, the 49ers had a long history of mediocre backup QBs behind Montana. From Guy Benjamin to Matt Cavanaugh to Jeff Kemp… all competent QBs who couldn’t carry Montana’s jock, but shined in short relief stints (and promptly sucked for every other team they joined).

Suddenly, they had a very good backup, one that could’ve started for 90% of the other teams in the league. And he wasn’t happy that he couldn’t play. Of course, Montana cooperated by getting injured more and more, which served to frustrate Young even more. Because each time he played, he got better… and the 49ers kept winning. He seemed to disagree with the unwritten rule that a starter can’t lose his job due to an injury. He wanted to be the starter, his ambition possibly blinding him to the futility.

Eventually, he got his chance. And he likely would’ve started in the Super Bowl that would’ve been the culmination of the three-peat due to Montana getting his spine rearranged by the Giants. Roger Craig fucked that up by fumbling the game away. So he waited until his ascendancy intersected Montana’s gradual decline and promptly ran headlong into a three-headed Cowboy dynasty. He overcame that obstacle ONCE and immediately ran into the Brett Favre era. So he helmed the 1st or 2nd best team in football for something like seven or eight years after apprenticing for four or five. He is one of the ten best quarterbacks ever (ignore the rating system that overrates modern QBs), probably around 7 or 8, and never seemed to get respect in his own town. “Not as good as Joe” or “Can’t beat Aikman or Favre”… It went on and on. Until now.

Props to you, Steve.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

I was contemplating the ineptitude of my local sports teams during my commute this morning, and I realized that I have more concrete memories of sporting events that happened 20-30 years ago than shit that happened last week. Since I write this blog for ME (just like Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV), I wanted to take some time to document some of these memories, especially given some of the recent events with my Dad.

1970 is my first recollection of being interested in sports. It was the 49ers and their playoff team of John Brodie, Gene Washington, and Jimmie Johnson, and it started a love affair that spanned the last 35 years. It also was the start of a lifetime hatred of the frickin’ Cowboys, again spanning 35 years. My dad went to a game that year at Kezar and brought home a program which I read cover-to-cover multiple times. I still have the offensive line memorized from that year (honest, with no looking, Banaszak, Peoples, Blue, Beisler, and Rohde). Scary. I couldn’t tell you the Niner o-line from last year.

’71 and ’72 ended similarly for the Niners, at the hands of the frickin’ Cowboys, though I do remember ’72 as being the year of Steve Spurrier. Brodie broke his leg early in the year and Spurrier led the 49ers to the division title, though he required heroics from Brodie in the last game against Minnesota. The last play was a precursor to “Sprint Right Option” with Brodie rolling right and hitting Dick Witcher in the back of the endzone. Yeah, I remember that play from 33 years ago clearly, but I can’t remember a single play from last year. Not a one.

’71 was my first year of following the Giants. Mays, McCovey, Marichal were all aging stars and they won the West. It was a booming time in the Bay Area then, and a great time to be a kid. In ’71, the 49ers, Giants, Raiders, and A’s all made the league championship games… and all lost. Still, it was easy for a seven-year old kid to start loving sports then.

Though the A’s won the series in ’72-’74, I was never a fan. I started following the Warriors around that time. I still remember going to my first game in Oakland, I think in ’72. The Warriors still had Jerry Lucas and Nate Thurmond, but what I remember most clearly is the ride home where my dad narrowly avoiding a head-on collision on the freeway with someone driving the wrong way on Hwy 17 (later to become 880). The ’74-75 Warriors won the NBA title and I still remember watching some of the games on tape delay at 11:30 PM on CBS. I still hate Mike Riordan. Anyway, I have the LP (!) with the highlights from that year, and put it on the turntable every year or so, just so I can reminisce about when the Warriors didn’t suck.

A relatively dead period in my fandom followed as high school and puberty took center stage. I remember the ’76 49ers, if only because Jim Plunkett led the 49ers to a near-playoff experience that was derailed by Steve Fucking Mike-Mayer blowing multiple games by missing extra points and field goals. As a matter of fact, I remember the d-line from that year: Cedrick Hardman, Tommy Hart, Cleveland Elam, and Jimmy Webb. Pathetic.

The Giants had a brief run back to respectability with the Chili Davis, Jack Clark teams of the late ‘70’s and early 80’s, but mostly sucked. As did the Warriors. And the 49ers sucked really bad in the late ‘70s.

And then came Joe.

When the 49ers drafted Joe Montana, I was pretty happy with the pick. After all, I had HEARD of him. I had seen him on TV and in bowl games! Remember, the draft back then wasn’t a media event with Mel Kiper and Chris Berman. All your info on college football came from watching ABC on Saturday afternoon watching the scoreboard show, and the occasional regional game. The big hullabaloo was around first pick James Owens, who ended up being a total stiff, but I had HEARD of Joe Montana. Bill Walsh initially used him as a goal-line veer specialist, running bootlegs with him whenever they got within the 5-yd line. I actually went to a game in ’80, partially because a girl I liked (and ended up dating for four years) was in the marching band that performed at halftime. Of course, within a couple of years, it was impossible to “walk up” and get tickets to see the 49ers.

The ’81 season was magical, but started off just so-so. I think the Niners were 2-2 and playing the Redskins (who might have been 4-0). This is totally from memory, a simple Google search would confirm, but I want the memory to be unaided. ONE play turned the season around. Redskins are running a sweep to the right from 49er territory (either Joe Washington or Terry Metcalf). Ronnie Lott comes up from the corner and literally flips him ass-over-teakettle as the ball pops out towards the sideline. Dwight Hicks picks it out of the air on a dead run and takes it up the left sideline for a touchdown. Joe Theeeesman almost caught him, but ran outta gas around the ten. From that moment, the season was theirs.

I could literally recap hundreds of plays from that year. The memories are crystal clear. I still have the NFC Championship game (the “Catch”) and the Super Bowl (the goal-line stand) on video. National anthem was Diana Ross, halftime was Up with People. Funny how memories work. It’s like that season is in a protected spot in my brain, free from the accidental erasures that we all have on a daily basis.

Same for the ’84 season, which was the BEST 49er team, and arguably the best NFL team ever. (as Squints would say, “FOR-EVER, FOR-EVVV-VERR”). They came within a horrible official’s call against the Steelers of going 19-0 that year, settling for 18-1 and a complete annihilation of the Marino-led Dolphins in the Super Bowl. One of the greatest one-time commercials ever seen (at least to me) came at the end. You see Montana and Marino walk up to a Pepsi machine in full uniform, apparently post-game. As Marino prepares to slide in his quarters, Montana says “I got it” and buys Marino and himself an ice-cold Pepsi. They both pop their cans and as Montana walks away, Marino says “Hey Joe, next year I’ll buy”. Priceless. And never seen again.

Sheesh, I’ve just written about memories from over twenty years ago that are clearer than any other pro sports memories from the last five years. I’m gonna stop now before I depress myself even more about the state of Bay Area sports. Go Sharks!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Some of my reactions to recent news:

· Regarding Rafael “Limp Dick” Palmeiro, just one word... D-UH. I mean, why the hell do you think he needed Viagra? His “little slugger” was likely so shriveled from Jose Canseco’s traveling hypodermic show that his wife was probably begging him to wrap his hand around his unit, just so she could feel it going in.

· And how many others flashed back to Clinton’s “I’m gonna say this one more time… I did NOT have sexual relations with that woman” during SportsCenter’s umpteenth replay of Palmeiro’s congressional performance?

· Another attractive female teacher has been busted for having sex with underage students (16 and 17), this time in New York. And this is a crime? Where the hell were these women when I went to school? Most of my teachers looked like freakin’ Aunt Harriet on Batman.

· The space shuttle crew has a frightening task tomorrow. Imagine being dangled by a fishing pole wearing a full football uniform including pads and helmet. Now imagine that you’re told to “gently” pull a tablecloth out from under a full table setting of crystal without breaking anything. OK, if that wasn’t hard enough, you’re orbiting the Earth at about a zillion miles an hour, and messing up the table setting means the fiery death of you and your comrades. Oh, and you don’t get to practice. You have to do it right the first time. Now… GO!

· It looks like the Brits have caught most of the terrorists that failed in their attempt to replay the subway bombings of last month. I hope they go RoboCop on these people. What? You don’t remember the beginning of RoboCop? The bad guys catch a cop and shoot off one hand and then the other. They shoot off one leg and then the other. Then they put a bullet right into his head. Of course, the dead comes back all bionicized and cybermacho as RoboCop, but that’s another story.

Whew, back from a week in Canada. A week of lounging around, fishing and swimming at my brother-in-law’s lake cottage in Western Ontario. All of the fishing was catch-and-release, since I have NFI how to clean or gut a fish and no one else at the cabin cared to do it either. Caught some Northern Pike (my son caught a three-pounder with basically a Walmart pole), some Smallmouth (I caught a two-pounder that made those fags on Bassmasters look WEAK), and some Walleye. Now I’m back at my desk, pretending to do some work…

At the cottage, one of my wife’s brothers brought the “Hold’em for Dummies” set. I watched them play for about two hands before ignoring the game altogether. The cards actually have instructions printed on the face OF THE PLAYING CARD on when to play and when to fold. For example, if you get a four, the card says that you should fold in early position no matter what your other card is, play in middle position with another four or suited Ace, and play in late position with… I can’t even remember. Anyway, the instructions were appallingly bad and I had no interest in playing with a group that would follow such instructions.

My wife wanted me to join her brothers in some sort of bizarre family poker bonding ritual, but quickly realized my contempt for the entire exercise. I told her that I would play if they’d have a REAL cash buy-in rather than chips with no value, arguing that it wasn’t really poker if you had no actual risk of losing, and they might as well play the cards face-up since everyone was staying till showdown on each hand. I probably said it too loudly because I attracted some grumpy frowns from the table of wannabes.

Anyway, once we got back on Sunday, I wasted no time in firing up a quick $10+1 SnG on Party. Of course, I got knocked out in fifth or sixth after getting crippled by a three-outer and finally busted on a two-outer. Ahhh, the joys of Party. I’ll be spending a lot of today getting caught up… at work and on the blogs.

Oh, and I joined the blogger fantasy football league run by the Donkeypuncher. I think he has the details on his site. You might have to dig a little bit since he’s been rather prolific with this blogging recently, but it’ll be worth it to join. $20 per player, Yahoo hosting, trash talking galore. Look for my team, “Sooted Connectors”, to be taking the title and the cash this year.